Apr 21, 2011
Fifty years ago tonight, Miles Davis brought a quintet into the Blackhawk club in San Francsico, California for two weekend dates. Seven sets later, the shows were history, but thankfully both Friday night and Saturday night shows were recorded, and eventually released on separate, then a combined, album.
1961 was a transitional year for Miles. John Coltrane was gone from the First Great Quintet, a band leader now in his own right. He still had the sensational rhythm section of Jimmy Cobb on drums, Paul "Mr. P.C." Chambers on bass and Wynton Kelly on piano. What he needed was a solid sax player to replace Trane.
For these gigs, it was Hank Mobley who got the call. The three sets played on April 21 showed Miles reaching into his catalogue for favorite covers like "If I Were a Bell", originals like "Fran-Dance" and "Walkin'" and budding classics liek Sonny Rollins' "Oleo". Mobley was up to the task, providing the bluesy sound that would make his Blue Note releases so popular. More Hard Bop than perhaps any previous player in Miles' bands, his read on various tracks - check out "Walkin'" was dead on.
Despite his fine playing, these were the only recordings of note Mobley ever made with Miles. Davis tried George Coleman in the sax chair for a time, and eventually stole Wayne Shorter away from Art Blakey to begin putting together the Second Great Quintet.